Bresha Meadows Case Calls Attention to Incarcerated Domestic Violence Survivors
From Teen Vogue:
Bresha Meadows has been in jail for 175 days, accused of killing her father. Police say she took a gun and shot her father in the head while he was sleeping. Bresha is awaiting trial on charges of aggravated murder, but her mother says she’s not a criminal — she’s a hero. That’s why organizers have put together a National Day of Action in her name, with hopes to #FreeBresha.
Bresha and her family say her father was verbally and physically abusive to them, so much so that they feared he would one day kill them. Before he died in August, Bresha had been speaking up about her father’s abuse for months, even running away from home and telling her relatives that her father might kill the whole family. Bresha’s mother, Brandi, had once made similar claims against her husband in an order of protection against him, saying if he found her and her children, she thought he would kill them. In court, Bresha pleaded not guilty to aggravated murder, but she’s been in jail awaiting trial since.
With an appearance in court scheduled for Jan. 20, Bresha’s supporters are rallying for her release and the charges against her to be dropped. That’s not all, though. Bresha is one of many who are criminalized for surviving domestic violence. The Correctional Association of New York found that 67% of women accused of killing someone close to them had been abused by that person. Of all the state’s inmates in for any charge, 75% had experienced severe physical domestic violence.
“All too often the criminal justice system’s response to DV survivors who act to protect themselves from an abuser’s violence is to send them to prison, often for many years,” a report by the Women in Prison Project of the Correctional Association of New York said. “This represents a shameful miscarriage of justice. Instead of giving survivors who have suffered life-shattering abuse compassion and assistance, we give them harsh punishment and prison. Instead of providing protection, the criminal justice system becomes just one more entity in the continuum of violence in survivors’ lives.”
BuzzFeed points out that another common issue is women who are victims of domestic violence being sent to prison when their abusive partner murders their child. The women go to prison not for helping commit murder, but for not being able to do anything about it.
Bresha’s supports are rallying for her and for everyone like her who has been punished for surviving violence. That’s why they are asking you join her #FreeBresha action day on Jan. 19, and the #SurvivedandPunished Week of Action from Jan. 19 to the 27 in an effort to gain awareness for survivors who are incarcerated and rally for their release.
Bresha’s uncle has denied her claims her father abused the family.
If you want to join, here are some ideas on how you can help.
CA Applauds Commitment to Raise the Age in Governor Cuomo’s State of the State Address, Laments No Mention of Racism, Violence, and Abuse in NYS Prisons
(January 9, 2016) New York, NY: The Correctional Association of New York roundly applauds the continued commitment of Governor Andrew Cuomo to raising the age of criminal responsibility in New York, ending the prosecution and incarceration of 16- and 17-year-olds as adults. It is now up to the members of both parties in the NYS Legislature to do their duty to make this a reality. In spite of the Governor’s assertion that the "nation looks to NY to find a way up," we actually fall behind 48 other states, along with North Carolina, by continuing to treat children as adults in the criminal legal system. New York must Raise the Age of criminal responsibility this legislative session. Read More
Menstruation and Incarceration: Prisons often lack or withhold necessary hygeine products, study shows
Menstruation can be inconvenient even in the best circumstances. However, for individuals who are incarcerated, there are obstacles that can make it much more than a minor stressor. Horror stories range from placing orders for period products that arrive too late (or not at all), to having to prove to correctional officers that their products [...]Read More
Under unique statutory authority granted to the CA in 1846, WIPP monitors conditions in women’s prisons in New York, a role played by no other group in the country. WIPP coordinates the Coalition for Women Prisoners, a statewide alliance of more than 1,800 people, and carries out advocacy campaigns to reform harmful criminal justice policies. [...]Read More
Watch the Correctional Association’s video about the barbaric – and illegal – shackling of incarcerated women during childbirth. In 2009 New York enacted a statute restricting the use of shackles on women during childbirth. The law bans outright the use of restraints on women throughout labor, delivery and recovery “after giving birth,” which is meant [...]Read More